When you hear the term sustainable business, what comes to mind?–green business, renewable energy, or harnessing the power of the sun? So many possibilities … and in certain discussions, these answers would be correct.
Sustainable business in our context refers to businesses or enterprises that are generating revenue and profit to enable orphan care ministry. As opposed to relying on donations or support, these businesses exist as stand-alone, self-sustaining entities that accomplish 3 specific things:
1. They generate revenue to fuel orphan care projects.
Sustainable businesses do not require on-going donations to stay afloat. Hard-working entrepreneurs are making shoes, weaving rugs, farming strawberries–using creative means at their disposal to harness innovative sales for eternal purposes. Luke Gudeman, who spent 4 years working in Zambia on one of Lifesong’s strawberry farms said it best–
Find the right people with a head for business and a heart for ministry.
2. They provide jobs for caretakers.
Sustainable businesses are able to hire people who can then come to work every day and earn a paycheck to provide for themselves and their family. In American terms, providing jobs doesn’t sound earth-shattering. Jobs (though they can at times be hard to win) exist all around us. In some countries, however, providing employment can change a person’s entire life.
Creating jobs can prevent orphans by providing work and income for families who wish to stay together.
3. Create future employment for orphans as they age out of orphan care programs.
Orphans age out of care at an alarming rate. Without the guidance and support provided by a loving family, these young adults have nowhere to turn. At Lifesong, for example, we have 4,500 children we are caring for in 9 different countries. We know these kids and stories by name. We are highly motivated to prevent orphans creating orphans, and we are committed to “our kids.” Most of these communities have a 70-80% unemployment rate. So we want to create jobs.
We realize God is their Father and not Lifesong, and He can take care of them with or without Lifesong, but we sure want to be part of that solution, and part of it is by creating sustainable business and providing value.
Andy, VP Lifesong
We aim to use business to impact the life of orphans, whether in or out of care.
Important to note: the returns are more than financial. A sustainable business that exists to enable orphan care wants to be successful, but is most concerned with its value in the kingdom of God.
Sustainable business can become a platform for sharing the gospel with employees. For instance, this can be accomplished through home visits, Bible studies, and language learning classes where the Bible is used to teach English. The ideas are inexhaustible!